The 500 largest family businesses in the world are vital to the health of and are growing faster than the global economy. Collectively, they generate US$8.02t in revenues and employ 24.5m people worldwide across 47 jurisdictions, high enough to be the third largest national economy by revenue, behind only the US and China, according to the 2023 EY and University of St.Gallen Family Business Index, which is a ranking of the 500 largest family businesses in the world by revenue, and issued every two years.
Longevity and stability continue to be a staple among the companies listed on the 2023 index, as more than three-quarters (76%) have been around for more than 50 years, and nearly one-third (31%) are more than a century old. This is further reinforced by their board structures, with almost one-quarter of all board seats (23%) being held by family members and nearly half (45%) having family members as CEOs.
While most companies in the index are based in Europe (46%), the US is the leading individual jurisdiction (24%). Overall, exactly half of all the businesses in the index are located in Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), with the Americas home to 34% and Asia-Pacific housing 16% of companies in the index. The contribution of Asia-Pacific has been consistently increasing ever since the first edition of the index in 2015, from 12% to 16% this year. Meanwhile, regarding industry sectors, consumer-based family enterprises lead the index (37%) thanks to their dominant share in the Americas. Companies in Advanced Manufacturing and Mobility follow (29%) as this sector is in the lead in EMEIA and Asia-Pacific.
Even though successful family enterprises are recognized for being agile, innovative and purposeful, there is still a ways to go with gender parity. Globally, around 6% have a female CEO, and women hold only 23% of all board seats. North America and Europe stand out on the index with female CEOs but still only around 7%. When it comes to the distribution of board seats among family members, Europe leads the way with women occupying 25% of family-held board seats, considerably above the global average of 20%.
Raluca Popa, Partner, Tax and Law, Strategic Growth Markets leader, EY Romania:
“Family businesses continue to demonstrate an impressive ability to adapt quickly, transform and innovate continuously. In anticipation of a potential slowdown in global economic growth next year, the long-term perspective of these companies and the desire to carry forward what they have built will be key factors in maintaining resilience and ensuring a strong succession plan.”